At the time Thailand paid money to buy the main battle tank VT-4, this tank had never been exported to any other country, much less went into battle anywhere.
Although China’s development of the VT-4 is not revolutionary, it is a cost-effective tank, according to NI military expert Charlie Gao.
While China’s main tank, the type-99, is also developing completely original designs for export. However, so far, not many countries have agreed to pay down money to buy the main battle tank VT-4 from China.
The VT-4 is China’s leading export tank, built on the technology and design of the previous Al-Khalid tank, with the cooperation of Pakistan and Ukraine. But how can the technology of the VT-4 be compared with the Russian T-90S tank, the US export M1 Abrams, Indian Arjun MK1A or the Leopard 2?
The origin of the VT-4 is from the Al-Khalid tank developed in the 1990s. The Al-Khalid tanks are largely built using Chinese and Pakistani technology, but a sore spot for designers The Chinese designation is that it lacks the ability to supply engines for the tanks.
The engine for the tank from Ukraine. Ukraine finally provided the production of the Al-Khalid tank. Therefore, the main goal of the VT-4 program when it started in 2009 was to build an engine of indigenous origin for future domestic and export tanks.
Thailand’s decision to buy VT-4 is the result of Ukraine’s failure to deliver the T-84 Oplot on schedule. At first, Thailand was confused between the T-90S and the T-84 Oplot tank, but US diplomatic pressure led it to choose the T-84 over the T-90S.
However, due to many problems, Ukraine could not deliver the T-84 in time. Therefore, Thailand had to choose another modern tank to replace the T-84. Once again, the Thai government after the coupled to the selection of VT-4 over T-90 and Thailand as the first VT-4 contract.
The VT-4 uses Chinese 125 mm BT-4 ammunition. BT-4 is the export name for the DTW125 ammunition, a Chinese last-generation armor-piercing fin-stabilized bullet with a tungsten piercing device, capable of penetrating 700 mm at a distance of 2 km.
While the 125 mm is the standard caliber, the VT-4 can also be exported with a 120 mm caliber cannon upon request of the customer. The 140 mm ammunition was once considered to be used by the VT-4 and future Chinese domestic tanks, but it is currently being shelved for research into better ammunition.
Thailand’s VT-4 is also compatible with Ukraine’s ammunition, including anti-tank guided missiles. But in the original design of the VT-4 it was not possible to use anti-tank guided missiles, this feature was added to the Thai VT-4 to use the anti-tank missiles delivered with the T- 84.
The body armor of the VT-4 is estimated to provide protection between 500 and 600 mm, and 700 to 800 mm if the ERA package is included. Turret armor stats remain limited for potential customers. Other features on the VT-4 include a laser alarm receiver and a The VT4 is equipped with a stabilized fire control including cooled thermal imager sights for commander and gunner.
In fact, Thai tankers have complained about the ERA protection package on the VT-4 being thinner than the Oplot. The Oplot’s design of the soft destroys proactive defense system has been proven in combat (as Ukraine’s Varta system is a copy of the Russian Shtora system that has proven effective in Syria), while VT4’s system has not been tested.
Although the performance of the VT-4 is unlikely to be on par with the latest American or Russian tanks, due to its design based on last-generation technology, the VT-4 is strong enough to withstand most contact threats from older generation tanks.
Therefore, the VT-4 is likely to be a popular and robust export product for countries with limited budgets or without political ties with Russia, Europe, or the US.